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Mental Health Awareness Month

Spiritually religious moments are not working anymore. Even before the pandemic there was a slow simmer elevating to a boil in the Christian church. As I prepared to graduate from seminary, I spent over a year with St. Marks United Methodist Church working with the Pastors and community; I learned how dissatisfied and unfulfilled the souls of our people were in the routine of their daily lives.

Our faces are smiling, bodies in church, mouths singing/praising, relationships posting, but our hidden places in sorrow, discontent, confusion and unfulfillment. I became immersed in experiencing the real yearning and cry of God’s people. I sat with and held the homeless in my arms as they poured out decades of shame and guilt, I spoke to ministers living in paralysis of fear and uncertainty. No matter the condition or position, I could feel the heart-wrenching wounds of God’s children and it seemed while church offered a place for some cases it wasn’t bringing enduring peace and emotional prosperity.

When COVID-19 hit us, we were not hit with a sudden onslaught of mental health and illness, and we were seeing a pot boiling over. The boil was not from a new tension and uprising, but rather old ones unexpressed for way to long. Mental health is only part of the story, even more significant is the state of our soul encompassing our emotions, feelings, thoughts, and heart which includes our will and intentions. We were created by God in His image. In our weaknesses and frailties, He is still sovereign and loving desiring us to experience His best, which includes His healing, peace, freedom, and joy. How do we experience the fullness of what God has for us from the inside out?

Some of my most intensive training in Spiritual Formation came through the study of a man by the name of Dallas Willard, an American philosopher also known for his writings on Christian spiritual formation.

I spent decades watching God use my own life as a birthing ground of experience that

would thread together with years of equipping. Listen to me, life as we knew it, including life within the context of the Christian church is over. We are living in a deep evolving urgent need for mental health but not mental health by itself, but mental health interconnected to emotional health, spiritual depth, seasoned and equipped spiritual care and leadership, and an anchoring to a healthy soul.

My evidence and experiences bear witness with Dallas Willard that Christians and searching non-Christians are looking for pathways into a deep thinking, heart transforming, intelligent and powerful Christlikeness that influences their entire existence emotionally, mentally, physiologically relationally and spiritually. I find persons coming to me not looking for short lived concepts and catchy sermons but practices and purposeful methodology with daily, enduring, life-long impact. There is a movement toward integration where psychology meets Spirituality, and Spirituality anchors psychology for the glory of God.


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